Something for everyone at Stamford’s first Georgian Festival

Performance historian John White, as George III, invites visitors to attend the Georgian Festival
Performance historian John White, as George III, invites visitors to attend the Georgian Festival
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It’s just two weeks until Stamford’s first Georgian Festival and the final preparations are being put to the huge range of events.

The festival, which will be held from September 27 to 29, is a celebration of Stamford’s heritage and is being jointly organised by South Kesteven District Council, Stamford Town Council and Burghley House Preservation Trust.

The town’s Georgian buildings and traditions will take centre stage and plenty of events have been set up to tie in with the theme.

One of the most anticipated will be the mock bull run, which will begin at Stamford Arts Centre at 3.30pm on September 28.

International carnival specialists Shademakers have teamed up with New College Stamford students to recreate one of the town’s oldest traditions.

A bull-running festival was held every November for 700 years, dating back to the 1200s. William de Warrene, the fifth Earl of Surrey, gave the Meadows to the butchers of Stamford on the condition they provided a bull to be run there every November 13.

The town’s traditional market will be taken back in time on September 28 with traders in Broad Street, Ironmonger Street and Red Lion Square.

Joining them will be stilt walkers, a mime artist, juggler, special children’s entertainment area, flea circus, living statues, fairground rides and a Punch and Judy show. The Georgian period will be brought to life by costumed characters, including a street pedlar and a Coldstream Guards military re-enactment from 1815.

Almost half the 44 traders currently booked in to Saturday’s Street Fayre and Craft Market are new to Stamford, including The Stonemasonry Company, from Castle Bytham, with an exhibition and invitation to have a go.

Craft specialists include an expert in the Georgian art of pyrography, using a heated implement to burn a freehand design into wood, leather, paper, bone, velvet or even glass. Other traders include sellers of medieval plaques, crystals, traditional sweets, a cheese seller, art, jewellery and food attractions including a hog roast.

A craft market on September 29 will build on the Stamford’s regular monthly craft event in the High Street, but with a Georgian twist. Markets will run from 10am to 4.30pm.

On September 27 Stamford caterer Adele Waring will work alongside BBC food historian Annie Gray in one of the key opening events for the festival.

Adele, who runs Clever Cooks catering service, will head a team of staff helping Annie with a public event in Stamford Arts Centre turning the clock back to reflect Georgian eating habits.

“An audience with Annie Gray” will re-create delicacies from sweet potato pie to a layered meat pie with sausage meat, chicken, gammon and hard boiled eggs, plus sugar cakes, a favourite of 1760s tearooms.

Adele might not be copying the potted cheeses of 1806 on her own menus but is delighted to be working alongside one of the UK’s most eminent food historians.

She said: “I was thrilled and honoured to be asked.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to work with someone like Annie and to share the kudos of doing something so interesting for Stamford.”

For those of a sporting persuasion there will be a cricket match with a difference on the Meadows on September 29.

Tricorn hats, wigs and odd-shaped bats will be on show as Lincolnshire club side Scopwick and Kirby Green Cricket Club step up to the crease from 1pm to 3pm for two hour-long sessions that track the history of cricket’s development through the Georgian age.

Cricket fans will love the authentic costume, under- arm bowling, a farmer and a gentry character in the batting line-up plus a commentary enlivened by a town crier.

It’s a first for the Meadows and a first for Scopwick Green, according to club secretary Richard Tasker. He said: “It’s been fascinating to research the game as it progressed from the early 1700s to the end of the Georgian era.

“The cricket bats were more like hockey sticks, so we have actually made some that fit the bill. It’s going to be really fun and, I am sure, very entertaining.”

A quiz will take visitors on a historical tour of Stamford and entrants will be in with a chance of winning a lunch for two at the Crown Hotel. Quiz sheets are on the festival website and entries close on October 1, meaning families can get out clue spotting in the run up to the festival weekend.